Make Thrift Mend is an art project focused on sustainable fashion, social practice, “art as action”, and reclaiming traditional garment-making skills. This project is also a fast-fashion fast where I abstained from purchasing any new clothing from August 1, 2013- August 1, 2014. Outraged by the factory collapse in Bangladesh in spring 2013 killing more than 1,000 workers; inspired by the NPR interview with Elizabeth Cline author of, Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion; and prompted by Natalie Chanin’s blog post regarding slow design–-I needed something to change. I used this information to inspire a process-based art project that would allow me to study slow fashion, stage a personal artist’s protest, and delve deeper into the intersection of art, fashion, and sustainability.
From August 1, 2013- Augst 1, 2014 I committed to a fast-fashion fast. As part of my journey to resist the fast-fashion industry and it’s unethical labor and ecological practices–I focused on making my own clothing, shopping for only thrifted, vintage, and/ or used clothing, and learning the disappearing crafts of mending, darning, preserving, and making garments. I took this investigation one step further by purchasing only used clothing that was made of natural materials (cotton, linen, wool, hemp, silk, etc) to reduce the petrochemicals in my closet. I taught workshops, hosted gatherings, secured grants, and shared various resources throughout the year. See the entire project on the Make Thrift Mend website. At the end of the first year I realized I had only scratched the surface of this work and recommitted to another year of abstaining from fast fashion, though from August 1, 2014- August 1, 2015 I would also consider purchasing new clothes from sustainable, independent, and local sources. This projects is very much active through visible mending workshops, natural dye projects, and continued sustainable fashion research.